The Character in question is a man called Melchizedek and he first appears in Genesis 14:18-20. He is then mentioned again briefly in Psalm 110:4. His role is then expanded in the book of Hebrews in chapters 5, 6 and 7
He is an interesting character because he doesn’t really have a proper introduction and is simply mentioned as the King of Salem and a priest of God. This is before the priesthood established by Moses (Aaron’s descendants) after the law was given.
The story in Genesis 14 shows various squabbles between alliances of various kings. Abraham’s nephew lot has been captured with his household and Abraham goes to rescue him. Abraham is successful and as he returns, Melchizedek appears on the scene. He brings out bread and wine and blesses Abraham. Abraham in turn pays Melchizedek a tithe (a tenth of the spoils).
The book of Hebrews in the New Testament says some pretty amazing things about Melchizedek. Even though Abraham was the chief patriarch of the Jewish nation, Hebrews calls Melchizedek ‘greater’ because he was doing the blessing and he received the tithe.
So how is Melchizedek a shadow of Jesus?
Firstly Melchizedek’s name is translated king of righteousness. Jesus of course was righteous (having never sinned) and made a way for us to be declared righteous.
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30)
Melchizedek was also the king of Salem, which means peace. Sound familiar?
Jesus is the prince of peace;
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Under the Mosaic law it was impossible to be a king and a priest at the same time. Melchizedek was before Moses and he foreshadowed the ultimate priest and king, Jesus, who saves us as our priest and rules over us as our king.
The next similarity is very mysterious but the writer to the Hebrews says that Melchizedek;
is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. (Hebrews 7:3)
Many people have debated what this means, perhaps Melchizedek was Jesus himself in a previous guise, but the writer links them together because we know that Jesus had no beginning and will never end. He is the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8).
The last similarity I want to look at today was the fact that Melchizedek offered bread and wine. He blessed Abraham with it, just as Jesus blesses us with His ordinance of breaking bread. When we celebrate the breaking of bread with our brothers and sisters, we remember the sacrifice of His body that Jesus gave to us. We share a meal with God himself, what an amazing blessing!